I consider myself somewhat of an expert on Japanese pop ‘n rock (colloquially referred to over there and abroad as “J-pop”) and writing an extensive series that takes place through the decades in Japan and NOT expecting me to insert Japanese pop songs into every scene is next to impossible. At the REN’AI RENSAI website I even have a list of recommended listening soundtracks for every major novel. One of my favorite decades of J-pop has to be the 90s. It was what I got into first back in 2003, and now it remains incredibly nostalgic (or as they say in Japan, natsukashii.)
This week as we lead up to the release of “JOSHOKU.” on Friday, I want to stop and listen to some tracks by artists that definitely influenced the 90s culture described in the book. These are artists and songs being played in the backgrounds of scenes – the CDs constantly falling off Reina and Aiko’s shelves when they need some, er, mood music.
Our first artist of the week is hitomi, a 90s pop idol who made her debut in 1994 with the Tetsuya Komuro (he is kind of a big deal people) written and produced track “Let’s Play Winter.” hitomi started her career as a model before quickly hitting superstardom in the 90s with her slickly produced dance tracks and heavy mid-tempo songs. She has a very unique voice even by J-pop standards, but it’s absolutely infectious, just like her songwriting abilities and her tracks as she has matured through the years. (Yup, she’s celebrating her 20th anniversary in the industry this year!)
I picked hitomi first for two reasons. 1) There is a new character in “JOSHOKU.” named hitomi, and that’s pretty funny. 2) I could see her first album getting a lot of spins in Aiko’s room. Aiko really loves flashy, pretty, and charming female pop singers, and hitomi just jumps into my head as “the it girl” that Aiko would fawn over for a good 2-3 years.
Below is hitomi’s third and arguably most popular single “CANDY GIRL.” I want you to imagine Aiko humming this to herself as she washes dishes today. Yes, today. Somewhere in RR land Aiko is washing some damned dishes and she is humming and singing “CANDY GIRL” and probably driving Reina nuts. Bless them both.